Console manufacturers have always been fond of throwing accusations, bragging, proudly defying the obvious, and, in general, throwing the smack down This activity just goes with the territory, because as worked up as a platform’s fan-base can become-it only scratches the surface of the loyalty expressed by those who actually work on, and are responsible for, those same platforms
Of all these manufacturers only Sony has continued to show enough blind-braggadocio to earn themselves an Oscar in egocentric announcements Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE), and it’s subsidiaries, talk from the sides of their mouths, misunderstand their own success, and, even worse, refuse to look at the success and failure of their competitors
But as Sony’s own saying goes, ‘This is life!’
…oh, really? This is Arrogance
When one is trying to dethrone the king, one must have confidence; it’s a given However, overconfidence is a vice that never wins a war
Take one look at the handheld market, and it’s painfully obvious that the big ‘N’ still the portable king
Sony’s answer? Dropping hints of a hardware redesign — as if the PSP wasn’t technically superior in the first place!
Upon the release of Nintendogs, Sony relentlessly jabbed at Nintendo with comments like, ‘gimmick’ or ‘children’s games.’ Never mind the fact that their flagship game release for the PSP at the time was ‘Death Jr.,’ which, if you haven’t kept score… is a kid’s game
Sony executives stated on multiple occasions that the touch screen of the DS was a gimmick; yet, the PSP survived for the better part of a year on a much more expensive gimmick, the UMD movie
That, friends, is only the portable market Now they have delayed the European release of the Playstation 3 until March, reduced the number of worldwide release units by half, and somehow still expect to be number one
Kazuo Hirai, SCEA’s lead man, when asked about the price-tag of the Playstation 3 in comparison to all of his competition, took a blatant shot at the user-base, ‘What kind of consumer are we looking at here?’ That’s pretty arrogant even by Sony’s own standards; you know the company that brought you the wonderful Phil Harrison quote, ‘Nintendo knows its target audience, because it has really narrowed that down; and it’s pretty much defined by a boy or girl’s ability to admire Pokemon.’
This is the Devil’s Luck
When Sony entered the console market, they were novices in this game (pun intended) They made a few ‘mistakes’ that led to their own success while their competition were the arrogant ones at that time
The original Playstation had an insanely low development cost, comparatively low licensing cost and the publishing cost was relatively modest
Sega, at that time releasing their Saturn console, had managed to arrogantly mishandle everything from marketing to development.
Nintendo made the mistake of insisting on sticking to the cartridge for console games, which made each game overly expensive for the publishers and the consumers
By the time the Playstation 2 came out, Sony got lucky yet again. Twice even. This time, the console hit in the east. The market in Japan found the world was moving from videotape to DVD and the Japanese snapped up Playstation 2s because they were some of the most inexpensive DVD players in Japan. In the west, Sony’s Playstation 2 was pushed by a game that would become a phenom, Grand Theft Auto III
Could the Playstation 3 also benefit from some instant luck as the Playstation 2 did? Like the Playstation 2, the Playstation 3 is featuring a new movie technology. Unlike the Playstation 2, instead of using a new medium to push console sales, they are hoping console sales will push a new medium Only time will tell if they will be on the receiving end of good fortune, or if Sony will have a repeat of Betamax, UMD, and the Minidisc However with the DRM (also known as ‘Defective by Design’) hassles of BluRay, and the overall lack of any movement away from DVD at this time, things don’t look good here.
When designing and marketing the PSP, Sony ignored all of the previous handheld systems that both competed with, and failed against, the Nintendo Gameboy brand.
Nearly every handheld gaming system that competed with the GameBoy systems were more powerful, with a better display, and more features than the GameBoy of it’s time; yet, each and every one of them failed — without exception The PSP joins the likes of the following:
Sega GameGear: Full color, same power as the ‘Master System,’ even came with a bag of chips.
Sega Nomad: Are you glad to see me, or is that a Genesis in your pocket? ‘Nuff said.
Atari Lynx: Other than a lack of marketing money, this handheld gaming monster was king of its day. No 4-bit, 8-monochrome color, low memory game-pack could rival anything the Lynx had to offer The stuff this portable offered rivaled the 16-bit gaming consoles, and, on occasion, outperformed even them.
NEC’s TurboGrfx Portable: a handheld TG-16 Go ahead, say it, ‘I got Bonk in my hand.’
NeoGeo Pocket Color: for all intents and purposes, this was the precursor to the GBA It linked to the Dreamcast, could be used as a controller, and, yes, it was better than the GBC.
I should expect by now that the reason the PSP is lumped in with these other systems is fully clear They all, Sony included, had the exact same gameplan: Our system has a better display and more CPU-power than the GameBoy/GameBoy Color/GameBoy Advance.
Each of these systems also suffered from woeful battery life-issues Each of these systems quickly lost out in the ‘number of titles available’ department While there is a difference in technologies of now and then, one has to wonder about the strategy involved.
Please don’t take this personally readers, my closet has also contained at least half of the ‘GameBoy Killers’ in it Still, if the above comparison doesn’t grate on your nerves the way it grates mine, then try this on for size.. The GameGear did moderately well, at least until Sega put all of their resources into their then-new home-console: the Saturn.
The lesson from that should be clear. Don’t put all your efforts behind a new, unproven (and especially an unreleased), product. It’s similar to the classic failure of the Osbourne computer. Yet Sony chose ignore that lesson and at E3 this year they ignored their own PSP by not showing a single title during the entire show. Not just failing to show a new PSP tile… they didn’t show any PSP titles at all.
This is Blissful Ignorance
Mind you, ignorance is not the same as stupidity; it just means a failure to understand or know something Given this, Sony is showing ignorance in not only failing to learn from their own mistakes, they’re also not learning from the mistakes of others.
The Playstation 2, for all of its success, never did reach the same level of market dominance once held by the original Playstation Some argue that this is because of greater competition, but that is too simple and too pat of an answer
The fact of the matter is that Sony had competition even in the glory days of the original Playstation; it’s just that the market paid little attention to them as Sony’s Playstation enjoyed complete dominance over the gaming industry
There were multitudes of reasons during the Playstation 2 era that Sony could never reclaim complete and utter dominance again, aside from having effective competition First, a part of the Saturn’s downfall in the previous console generation was the difficulty in programming for Saturn’s platform. Yet, Sony produced a beast of a machine to program for in the Playstation 2 — even more difficult to program for than the Saturn ever was Sony just didn’t learn
They should have learned from the Nintendo 64 that overpriced games were a quick route to death, but they continued to increase the cost for games that were hardly justified by the quality of the game
In the realm of overcharging in today’s market, Sony makes Microsoft look like a discount software house For $100 less that the top model, no memory stick usage, no WiFi, and until recently no HDMI port. Recently, at the Tokyo Game Show (TGS), Sony did an about-face concerning the HDMI output, and sounded less than conciliatory about the fact Still, both versions of the Playstation 3 will be more expensive than any other game console. Even worse, history has shown that developers tend to develop to the minimal specifications of a platform with multiple configurations.
To add insult to injury, Sony has also declared that Japanese users will get a lovely 20% price reduction for investing in the new console
Oh Sony, were the number of angry European customers not enough?
This is the end.
Well, I don’t really think we’ve been too cruel to Sony in this piece, but why not let Sony close us out with their own words:
In a year when every console manufacturer is releasing new systems, Sony’s own Phil Harrison says, ‘We have a tremendous piece of hardware… and great creativity. I have no concerns about the competition.’
SCE’s David Reeves, their European CEO, had this to say about the upcoming Playstation 3, ‘We have built up a certain brand equity over time since the launch of the PlayStation in 1995 and Playstation 2 in 2000 that the first five million are going to buy it, whatever it is, even if it didn’t have games.’
Finally we quote Ken Kutaragi (SCE CEO), ‘Playstation 3 is for consumers to think to themselves, ‘I will work more hours to buy one.’ We want people to feel that they want it, irrespective of anything else.’
These are counterpoints.
There are, of coarse, counterpoints to generality of Sony’s various misfires While in total, the release of the PS3 looks like a mess, and the PSP is looking more and more like a lame-duck every day, there are a few bright spots.
Sony has shown with the change of specs of the PS3’s HDMI output that they can recognize mistakes and make needed changes.
Considering the cost of current generation BluRay players with HDMI output (around $1000 or higher), even the high end PS3 carries a $400.00 smaller price tag.
The PS3 is supposed to be backward compatible all the way to the PSX Not unlike with the release of the PS2, Sony promises to maintain a list of games that may not work on the new console.
If nothing else, the PSP does make for a good quality personal video player with lots of third party support.
Unlike the PSP’s competitors, the PSP does have USB connectivity and other features allowing the hardware to be used even after the platforms possible demise.
The PSP, again unlike it’s predecessors, is the product of not just a big company, but an outrageously huge company that could stand to take losses for years to come on this platform while they wait for it to ‘take’ in the market.
While there are still not enough titles, the PSP does finally have ‘budget releases,’ allowing users to get a $19.99 gaming fix.
There is no doubt that Sony can push their newer platforms, gain a following, and generally make their plans materialize Thus, even with all their insanely bold, if not arrogant, talking-heads, Sony doesn’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk. Usually.